Grant Dayton: The Braves Newest LHP
While Atlanta Braves fans are licking their wounds after the sanctions handed down from MLB for former General Manager John Coppolella’s wrong-doings, their new GM, Alex Anthopoulos, is busy looking towards the future. He made his first mark on the Braves roster by adding pitchers Josh Ravin and Grant Dayton, both of which come from the NLCS Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, Anthopoulos’s former team. Both pitchers will provide depth for the bullpen, especially the lefty Dayton, it is just going to have to be a little further down the road for him.
Dayton, who just turned 30 a couple of days ago, won’t help the Braves move towards competitiveness in 2018 as he is expected to miss most of, if not all of, next season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. While he didn’t fare well in 2017, it is clear that the majority of the struggles can be attributed to his elbow issues.
The 6’2 hurler out of Auburn University has only pitched 50 major league innings, 26.1 in 2016 and 23.2 in 2017, while getting much different results in each of his two campaigns. After six plus seasons in the minors, Dayton was called up to the Dodgers in July of 2016. He would finish the season with the big league club and make seven appearances in the postseason.
Although it is a small sample size, Dayton was extremely impressive in his 25 appearances in 2016. Serving primarily in a middle relief role, the Huntsville, Alabama native posted a 2.05 ERA while striking out 39 and issuing just six walks. After allowing only 14 hits to the 101 batters he faced, Dayton posted an impressive 0.759 WHIP to go with a FIP of 2.96.
2017 marked the first time Dayton would break camp with the major league club. He was unable to build on the momentum from his outstanding 2016 campaign and saw dramatic dips in virtually all of his numbers. The strikeouts, Dayton’s bread and butter, were cut nearly in half, the walks were doubled, the WHIP rose all the way to 1.31, the FIP to 5.74, and the ERA shot up to nearly 5.
Dayton’s fastball sits in the high 80’s to low 90’s with a good changeup and slider also in his repertoire. The high strikeout numbers come from his ability to command all three of his pitches. While the Braves won’t have Dayton as an option in the 2018 season, fans should be encouraged by what he will bring to the club in the future. With the success he had in 2016 and during his time in the minors, it is reasonable to expect Dayton to return to excellent form now that his elbow issues have been resolved.